The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, is one of those laws that we shouldn’t actually need. After all, anyone with any sense knows that there’s no way a gun manufacturer is responsible for what a purchaser does with that weapon after it leaves the factory. They’re responsible for any factory defects or something like that, sure, but for what a third-party does? Absolutely not.
And yet, we need the law because people thought suing gun makers for what other people did was a winning strategy.
Over the years, we saw a lot of people file such lawsuits, all with the intent of trying to break the gun manufacturers. They couldn’t get gun control through the legislature, so they were going to try and make it so we couldn’t get a gun regardless of what the law actually said.
The PLCAA put an end to that, more or less. People still try, of course, but most such lawsuits get tossed, and some people don’t like that.
That apparently includes the White House.
The Biden White House renewed the call this week for lawmakers to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
The PLCAA was signed into law by President George W. Bush (R) in 2005. It protects gun makers from frivolous lawsuits in instances where the guns in question were legally made and legally sold.
On Tuesday the White House affirmed that President Biden wants lawmakers to “repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives gun dealers and manufacturers special immunity from certain liability for their products.”
Now, let’s understand that if you can show a gun manufacturer or seller did anything illegal in selling that weapon, the PLCAA doesn’t apply. There’s no protection for illegal acts, for example. It also doesn’t cover blatant irresponsibility for anyone either.
If Joe’s Arms builds an AR-15 and then leaves the door unlocked, for example, and the gun is stolen, then a case can be made that they aren’t covered by the law.
All the PLCAA does is stop someone from suing the gun maker because some gangbanger with a stolen gun shot their precious child. That’s what the law actually covers.
These lawsuits are akin to suing Toyota because a drunk driver killed someone.
Or, perhaps more accurately, because the getaway driver in a bank heist hit a pedestrian while driving a Toyota.
So why is there a push to repeal it? Part of is it that the media has portrayed the PLCAA as a general liability shield for the gun industry. Many people think these makers can’t be sued at all.
Another part of it is that other people really seem to think gun manufacturers have more direct control over arms sales than they actually do. Most guns that get sold go through a distributor before getting to a gun store, but they don’t realize that. They think Glock or Smith & Wesson is just selling to people off their back loading dock.
Frankly, it all boils down to people who don’t have a clue what’s going on and think they do.
The problem, however, is that the PLCAA is necessary because these lawsuits really are both frivolous and damaging to the firearm industry as a whole. That’s the whole point of them, really.
See, anti-Second Amendment groups long pushed the families of victims to file these lawsuits, not because they honestly believe the firearms industry is responsible, but because they want to weaponize that grief and try to make it financially untenable to make and sell guns for the general public.
That’s what they’re trying to end with them.
Biden wants to repeal the PLCAA because he knows it will eventually lead to the death of private gun ownership in this country.
It’s also why this cannot be permitted.